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Report Calls for Counseling Guidelines for Treating Transgender People

FRIDAY, July 6 (HealthDay News) -- Psychiatrists who see transgender patients need specific guidelines to help determine the best course of treatment, according to new report from the American Psychiatric Association.

The American Psychiatric Association Task Force on Treatment of Gender Identity Disorder also calls for the psychiatrists' group to clarify its position on the health care and civil rights of people who are transgender or transitioning gender, meaning they are in the process of changing their gender through hormones and surgery.

The task force analyzed research and treatment information on gender identity disorder at different stages of people's lives. The task force also examined research on the treatment of gender dysphoria, or discomfort about one's own gender, among people who had disorders of sex development, a condition when the external genitals and the internal genitals (the testes or ovaries) don't match.

Although research on the treatment of gender identity disorder is limited, the task force concluded there was enough consensus to support the development of recommendations for the management of the condition in all age groups. The report said the American Psychiatric Association should establish a separate method for evaluating the needs of people with disorders of sex development.

"The American Medical Association has adopted a resolution supporting insurance coverage for medically necessary treatment for individuals diagnosed with GID [gender identity disorder]. The task force report recommends the [American Psychiatric Association] adopt a similar position, and issue other statements in support of the rights of gender variant persons," task force chair Dr. William Byne said in an association news release.

The American Psychiatric Association introduced the diagnosis of gender identity disorder in 1980, but has not yet taken an official position on the treatment or other concerns of transgender persons.

The report was published online July 2 in Archives of Sexual Behavior.

More information

The American Psychological Association provides more information on what it means to be transgender.

-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas

SOURCE: American Psychiatric Association, news release, July 2, 2012

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